ATLANTA — Congressman John Lewis, a civil rights icon and the last of the Big Six civil rights activists led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., died Friday at age 80. He is being remembered by congressional colleagues, civil rights leaders and former presidents as a “titan” of the struggle against racial discrimination.

FORMER PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA

“Considering his enormous impact on the history of this country, what always struck those who met John was his gentleness and humility. Born into modest means in the heart of the Jim Crow South, he understood that he was just one of a long line of heroes in the struggle for racial justice. Early on, he embraced the principles of nonviolent resistance and civil disobedience as the means to bring about real change in this country, understanding that such tactics had the power not only to change laws, but to change hearts and minds as well.”

Barack Obama, John Lewis, James Jackson, Clete Kiley

From left, Brown Chapel AME Church Pastor James Jackson, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia, and Rev. Clete Kiley, hold hands and sing in 2007 at the end of a church service in Selma, Ala., on the commemoration of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. protest march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala. Associated Press

HOUSE SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI

“John Lewis was a titan of the civil rights movement whose goodness, faith and bravery transformed our nation – from the determination with which he met discrimination at lunch counters and on Freedom Rides, to the courage he showed as a young man facing down violence and death on Edmund Pettus Bridge, to the moral leadership he brought to the Congress for more than 30 years. ”

SENATE MAJORITY LEADER MITCH McCONNELL

“I will never forget joining hands with John as members of Congress sang We Shall Overcome at a 2008 ceremony honoring his friend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It could not have been more humbling to consider what he had suffered and sacrificed so those words could be sung in that place.”

MAINE SEN. SUSAN COLLINS

“With the passing of Congressman John Lewis, America has lost a civil rights icon who changed history at great personal sacrifice.”

MAINE SEN. ANGUS KING

“We lost a lion of justice last night. John Lewis fought every day of his life for the simple promise at the heart of the idea of America—liberty and justice for all. Rest in peace John Lewis; you will never be forgotten.”

MAINE REP. CHELLIE PINGREE

“I was so sad to learn of the passing of my colleague and friend, John Lewis. This is a great loss to the US Congress and to our country. I feel so fortunate to have served with him and to have learned so much from him—he was always teaching and inspiring us.”

MAINE REP. JARED GOLDEN

“Very few have worked as hard to make our country live up to its ideals as John Lewis. Working with him in Congress, I’ve been inspired by his graceful leadership and service, ability to see good in all people, and strong sense of America’s conscience.”

FORMER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON AND FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON

“From a small farm in Alabama, to life-risking service in the civil rights movement, to three decades in Congress, he was always ‘walking with the wind,’ steered by a moral compass that told him when to make good trouble and when to heal troubled waters. Always true to his word, his faith, and his principles, John Lewis became the conscience of the nation.”

FORMER PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER

“He made an indelible mark on history through his quest to make our nation more just. John never shied away from what he called ‘good trouble’ to lead our nation on the path toward human and civil rights. Everything he did, he did in a spirit of love. All Americans, regardless of race or religion, owe John Lewis a debt of gratitude.”

THE CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS

“The world has lost a legend; the civil rights movement has lost an icon, the City of Atlanta has lost one of its most fearless leaders, and the Congressional Black Caucus has lost our longest serving member. The Congressional Black Caucus is known as the Conscience of the Congress. John Lewis was known as the conscience of our caucus.”

THE NAACP

“He fought harder and longer than anyone in our nation’s continuing battle for civil rights and equal justice.”

THE REV. JESSE JACKSON

“John Lewis is what patriotism and courage look like. He sacrificed and personifies a New Testament prophet.”

THE REV. AL SHARPTON

“My friend, role model, and activist extraordinaire has passed. Congressman John Lewis taught us how to be an activist. He changed the world without hate, rancor or arrogance. A rare and great man.”

BERNICE KING, DAUGHTER OF MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.

“Farewell, sir. You did, indeed, fight the good fight and get into a lot of good trouble. You served God and humanity well. Thank you. Take your rest.”

FORMER SENATE MAJORITY LEADER HARRY REID

“Few have had as powerful and inspiring an impact on our country as Congressman Lewis and America is a better, more equal place because of his sacrifice and leadership. Our nation owes so much to this incredible man. We served together in Congress for decades, and I was honored to call him my friend.”

REP. MAXINE WATERS

“It is not enough to say he was a revered civil rights icon. He was a man of impeccable integrity who dedicated his life to fighting against racism, discrimination & injustice. John was a true leader who inspired us all to have the courage to fight.”

THE AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION OF GEORGIA

“Time and time again he demonstrated moral and physical courage in nonviolent defiance of the white supremacist regime in the South. Throughout his long life, his commitment to full equality for all people never wavered. He will always be remembered with gratitude and admiration.”

U.S. SEN. DAVID PERDUE OF GEORGIA

“No one embodied the word ‘courage’ better than John Lewis. As a civil rights icon, John inspired millions of Americans to fight injustice and reject the status quo. Without a doubt, his wisdom and resolve made the world a better place.”

U.S. SEN. KELLY LOEFFLER OF GEORGIA

“As a leader in the civil rights movement, he always pushed America to live up to its promise of freedom and equality. Our nation is better because of his leadership and courage. We know his legacy will never be forgotten.”

STACEY ABRAMS, GEORGIA POLITICIAN

“Defender of justice. Champion of right. Our conscience, he was a griot of this modern age, one who saw its hatred but fought ever towards the light. And never once did he begrudge sharing its beauty.”

 


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